WHAT TO DO IN HELSINKI
Fly with us to Helsinki and discover culture, stylish shopping, saunas and a hip nightlife.
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Summer or winter, you’ll find lots of things to do and see when on holiday in Helsinki. Culture, shopping, relaxation, adventure, great food, and an amazing nightlife – you couldn’t ask for more in a compact city.
Cultural holidays are made simple due to its relatively small size. Helsinki has beautiful parks all over the city, striking architecture and excellent galleries and museums. Shopping ranges from flea markets to luxury stores. Afterwards, be pampered at a spa, or simply take in a cheap and cheerful sauna. Try innovative Finnish cuisine and then go to cool cocktail hangouts or local beer bars. In the summer months, hire a bike to see the city at your own pace.
Shopping in Helsinki is a stylish affair, and with a whole district dedicated to design it is easy to see why. Look for the shops with a black sticker proclaiming ‘Design District’ on the Pohjoisesplanadi and Etelaesplanadi. Visit the iconic Stockmann department store on Mannerheimintie for luxury designers, or head to the Hakaniemi Market Hall for quirky Finnish goods.
See the stunning Senate Square, to find Helsinki Cathedral’s copper green dome. Visit Sibelius Park and its famous monument, or venture to the wonderful Temppeliaukion Church, built directly into sold rock. Don’t miss a trip to the fortress on Suomenlinna Island, or the Botanic Gardens in Kaisaniemen. Culture vultures should explore the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma and Helsinki Music Centre, among others.
Known for its traditional, simple cuisine, Helsinki has been going through a foodie renaissance. There are a plethora of restaurants and cafés serving New Nordic fare, and a surprising amount of pop ups during the summer too. Try cured reindeer salami, delicious fish – both smoked and fresh – and superb Karjalanpiirakka pies. International food is easy to find, but go for the Finnish – you won’t be disappointed.
There are many bars in Helsinki, but which area is for you? The cool kids head to Kallio, where craft breweries and speakeasies vie for your attention – try Rytmi to do some hipster spotting. Rock fans will love Bar Bäkkäri in Kamppi, with a nightclub above. And find fantastic cocktail bars in the centre, with the intimate Liberty or Death taking the crown for the best cocktails in Scandinavia.
The summer in Helsinki may be short, but the beaches come alive with sun worshippers. Stretch out on the glorious sands of Hietaniemi Beach (known as Heitsu by the locals), only a few minutes’ walk away from Sibelius Park. Or venture over to Suomenlinna Island for the colourful Viaporin Tuoppi Regatta. Or find the nudist beach on Seurasaari Island, if you dare.
Helsinki is incredibly green, with hundreds of squares, parks and even a forest in the city. Perfect for lazing away an afternoon in the summer, or building snowmen in the winter months. From the stunning botanic gardens of Kaisaniemen Park to the leafy shores of Kaivopuisto, the centre is ideal for a stroll. Or go further north to Keskuspuisto, or Central Park, which stretches 10 kilometres toward Paloheinä Forest.
When the winter chill hits Helsinki, the best way to get through the average -15 temperatures is to visit a sauna. Seen as a source of national pride, the Finnish take their saunas seriously, so make sure to visit a good one. The Kotiharju Sauna in Kallio is the last genuine wood-heated public sauna in the city and has been open since 1928.
See the best of Helsinki at your own pace – hop-on and hop-off.Find out more
Explore Senate Square, the Presidential Palace and more on this fantastic tour.Find out more
Travel around the archipelago of Helsinki and see the Suomenlinna Maritime Fortress.Find out more
Discover Helsinki with great discounts on travel and entrance to top attractions.Find out more